Reid Stowe grew up traveling due to his father being in the Air force. He spent most of his summers in North Carolina at the family beach house. There, at the age of 20 Stowe built his first boat, a catamaran named Tantra. He then sailed with one other teenager, to Asia, Africa, South America and back to North Carolina over the course of three years. Upon his return, Stowe built the schooner Anne in 1978 at the age of 25. In 1987, he sailed her to Antarctica with seven other people. It was just before leaving on the Antarctic voyage that Stowe conceived of going 1000 days at sea though it would be years before he would actually leave. In the interim he pursued his lifelong passion to establish himself as an artist. Stowe’s artistic and sailing endeavors were intertwined from the start. (See Reid’s art). He sculpted protective figureheads in the tradition of ancient seafaring cultures and created abstract paintings that helped him envision and plan the 1000 days sea voyage. Despite the lack of funding and limited skilled labor available, Stowe was finally able to embark on the dream two decades in the making.
Upon his return, Stowe achieved several world records for the longest time as sea without stopping or resupplying, 1,152 days, far beyond his original goal of 1000 days. He had departed land with just one other person, his beloved partner, Soanya Ahmad. She left the voyage after 306 days to give birth to their son on the land. In 2010, the end of the voyage, Stowe met his almost two year old son for the first time. Stowe and his new family went on another sailing adventure a year and a half later to the jungles of Guyana where they spent almost a year rebuilding and working on the boat. That adventure ended in 2012 when they sailed back to North Carolina to take care of Stowe’s recently widowed father. Stowe is currently working on writing and trying to publish his many sailing adventure stories.
Soanya Ahmad was born and raised in NYC though her parents had emigrated from Guyana. She attended the City College of New York where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in photography. After having photographed many black and white harborscapes of cities on the east coast, she became interested in learning more about the waterfront prompting her to pursue a second degree in Maritime Technology. Photographing piers eventually led Ahmad to meet Stowe who was preparing for his 1000 days voyage. Having worked various jobs through college, she realized the office cubicle was not for her. Three years after her first encounter with the 1000 days project, and despite the fact that she had never been on the ocean before, decided to accompany Stowe on his most challenging voyage yet. She lived aboard the schooner a year before leaving, giving her time to learn basic seamanship skills, to prepare to live for three years away from civilization. While at sea, Ahmad was involved in all aspects of the voyage including photographing, videotaping, computers, communications, and managing electrical charging systems until fate stepped in.
Ahmad left the voyage after 306 days non-stop at sea because she was pregnant, but she had achieved her own world record for the longest time a woman has been at sea continuously and without resupply. Five months later, she gave birth to her son, Darshen Stowe. In 2010, when Stowe returned, they were reunited and lived on the boat in New Jersey and in New York. The whole family sailed to Guyana, South America, in 2011 where the Anne anchored on a jungle river and Darshen was rowed to shore to attend school with the locals while extensive work was done to the boat. The family sailed back to North Carolina and is now living in a house in the suburbs. After five years in all of living on a boat, both on the sea, on the shore, and anchored off shore, it is a welcome change, though probably not a permanent one. Ahmad has written a handbook, yet unpublished, on how to stock up on food for three years and still stay healthy on only that diet. She is currently working on sharing many more of her insights into daily life.